New car registrations in Wales plunged over 30% last month after a boom in March due to new taxes and charges beginning in April, writes Robin Roberts.
It was the steepest fall in the UK, with Northern Ireland just a little behind while England and Scotland did not suffer anywhere like the same downturn.
The fall was expected but the percentage was higher than many thought. Private sales fell steepest at 28%, while diesel sales shrunk over 27% and business contracts declined 21%.
There are industry concerns the sales will not recover until September when the new number-plate is introduced.
Struggling dealers will have to offer exceptional terms, prices and finance, backed by manufacturers in most cases, if they are not to get burned by the summer slowdown.
|There is also some mounting concern over the 80% of business underwritten on personal contract plans and a move against these in favour of more traditional HP agreements might see sales slow as a result as well.
It is now going to become a buyers market as keen owners play off one dealer against another and refuse to accept initial offers from the trade.
|The top ten registered cars in Wales last month were:
Fiesta, Focus, Kuga, Polo, Qashqai, A-Class, Golf, Astra, Sandero and Sportage.
Top ten in UK were:
Fiesta, Qashqai, C Class, A Class, Focus, Astra, Golf, A3, Polo and 1 Series.
SMMT figures yesterday showed 4,534 new cars registered in Wales in April, some 30.62% down on 12 months earlier and the underlying slide is about 5.54% in four months.
Total UK registrations were 151,412 or close to 20% down.
Commenting on the figures, Simon Benson, director of motoring services at used car website AA Cars, said, “A fall in new car registrations was always on the cards after last month’s rush to beat the Vehicle Excise Duty tax rises, which came into force on 1 April.
“While a drop-off was anticipated, for the April figures to have declined by a fifth will have caught some in the industry by surprise.
“The alternative fuel vehicle market suffered a particular blow, experiencing its first decline in almost four years, although demand for new cars was down across the board in April.
“However, diesel vehicles saw the most substantial fall in new registrations, with a drop of more than a quarter (27.3%) on the previous month.
“With consumers turning away from the new vehicle market across the country, the knock-on effect of this slowdown could prove to be an enormous opportunity for used car dealers.
“The cost of living is rising, while consumer confidence and spending are starting to contract. That bodes well for the second-hand car market.”
In the first quarter of 2017, demand for alternative fuel vehicles in the EU grew 37.6% to 212,945 units, following a moderate increase at the end of 2016.
Registrations of electrically chargeable vehicles showed a gain of 29.9%, which were supported by growth in demand for both battery 49.0% and plug-in electric cars up 13.0%.
Total ECV registrations rose from 36,322 units in Q1 2016 to 47,196 units in Q1 2017. Demand for new hybrid vehicles also grew 61.2%, counting 111,006 units in the first three months of the year.
After performing poorly in 2016, registrations of new cars powered by propane or natural gas started 2017 with a boost of 10.4%, totalling 54,743 units.
All the major EU markets made a significant contribution to Europe’s positive results. Spain saw the largest increase in AFV registrations over the last quarter (+87.4%), followed by Germany (+67.5%), the United Kingdom (+29.9%), France (+24.8%) and Italy (+17.2%).
Growth in most of these countries was fully driven by the electric and hybrid-electric segments; especially in the UK, Germany and France, which accounted for the largest numbers of new electrically chargeable cars.